In the 55 years since his debut at Leo Castelli Gallery, Frank Stella has led the conversation about contemporary painting countless times. On October 30, the Whitney Museum of American Art charts his nonpareil career with a retrospective that will take over the museum’s entire fifth floor. A solo exhibition of work from several important series is also on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York through October 10. Modern Painters contributing editor Hunter Braithwaite met with the artist at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass, Colorado—where he was receiving the National Artist Award this summer—to discuss his long career in surprisingly no-nonsense terms.
Trevor Paglen shines a light on the shadowy confluence of technological innovation and state misconduct. Whether by photographing secret military installations from afar, or by parsing official documents to identify telling omissions, the aim is to see that which has been purposefully obscured in hopes that visualization leads to consideration. Having grown up on military bases (his father was an Air Force ophthalmologist) before coming of age in the Bay Area punk scene in the ’90s, Paglen is now based in Berlin. We met several times this May at the Istanbul International Arts and Culture Festival, where he had just spoken about a new body of work (on view at Metro Pictures from September 10 – October 24).
Jillian Mayer’s first computer was on the bedroom floor, squeezed in a nook next to her bed. She remembers spending long hours basking in its light, her body folded over in some parody of prayer. “The computer is your shrine,” she says. “Think of the halo, Byzantine gold leaf—it’s now the glow of the screen.” But don’t expect egg tempera and mosaic. Mayer’s art is more Nickelodeon than Nicodemus. Using homemade props, Kid Pix colors, and the fonts, fades, and feel of predawn QVC infomercials, her work camps in an uncanny valley, a place just familiar enough to bring about some serious introspection as to how we should live in a world teetering above a digital abyss. And while you can find it on YouTube, or in David Castillo Gallery, her art is just as likely to be projected on the exterior of the Guggenheim, screened at Sundance, and confused with pornography on the streets of Montreal.
On a hot day in May, Monte Laster and I drove an hour and a half out of Dallas to Castle Rock Mountain, a ranch he had purchased just two weeks prior to serve as the American base for his community engagement platform—the French American Creative Exchange (FACE). I was in town for the first edition of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Soluna International Music and Arts Festival, which commissioned Laster to create a new project based on notions of place, identity, and dislocation. Although he was raised in Fort Worth, Laster has lived in France since 1989, primarily in the disenfranchised banlieue of La Courneuve, a fifteen-minute train ride north of Paris. “I’m 100% Texan and 80% French,” the artist said. Castle Rock was a bit of a homecoming.
The concrete was still wet when the new Garage Museum of Contemporary Art opened this week in Moscow’s Gorky Park, but that didn’t stop the crowds. Designed by Rem Koolhaas’s OMA for the expanding art space helmed by collector and magazine editor Dasha Zhukova, the Garage preserves Moscow’s architectural past, sets a new bar for the future of contemporary art, and revitalizes a park along the way.
A few weeks ago, artists of different generations and pursuits gathered in Istanbul for the Istanbul International Arts & Culture Festival (IST.), a weekend of free conversations and art exhibits—the stuff that brings together luminaries from fields as diverse as architecture, literature, and millinery.
Once a small series of workshops, IST. is now an international affair; past guests include Zaha Hadid, Gore Vidal, and Courtney Love. And if this fifth annual event proved anything, it’s that the art scene in this timeless city is fresher than ever.
I met David Salle in the crowded lobby of the Joule Hotel on Main Street in downtown Dallas. He was in town for the opening of Debris, a large show of his paintings and ceramics on view through August 23, 2015, at the Dallas Contemporary. David Salle: New Paintings, is on view at Skarstedt Chelsea from April 30 – June 27, 2015. This conversation took place upstairs in a quiet suite. There, for over an hour, he spoke with humor and fine acuity about a painter’s influences, the continuum of aging, and discovering Frank O’Hara on a rotating rack in Wichita, Kansas.
Read the interview at The Brooklyn Rail.
Several years ago, while walking home from a Little Caesars in southwest Miami, I came across a headless chicken, drained of its blood and abandoned in the middle of the street. I later learned that the bird was sacrificed in a Santeria ritual (its placement in the intersection was a suburban approximation of the crossroads: the portal between worlds). The encounter provided further evidence of something I learned the moment I moved to the country’s largest Caribbean city—and kept learning until I left. The tropics will reveal themselves to you, but without warning or explanation.
This was on my mind last month when I visited another Caribbean capital, New Orleans, to make sense of another street scene. Four years in the making, EN MAS’: Carnival and Performance Art of the Caribbean, an exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Center, presents Carnival—dance, music, costuming; all of the inhaled and exhaled culture of the Caribbean and its leaky diaspora—in the context of contemporary art.
“It’s a heavily diluted broth the human body soaks in for leisure,” says Nicolas Lobo of muriatic acid, a common swimming pool cleaner that he will use to scar the concrete walls of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) for “Leisure Pit,” an exhibition opening April 16. “But if it were any more concentrated, it would dissolve that human body instantly.” This is not the first time the Miami-based artist has made art using a household chemical. Over the years he has used homemade napalm, clouds of Robitussin sprayed from a fire extinguisher, bootleg perfume, and expired energy drinks with purported aphrodisiac qualities. This is a man who once made soy sauce out of his own hair.
Sometimes art-fair weeks have an echo-chamber reverb—the same canapés, the same Instagrams, the same Damien Hirst spin paintings. But if you’re lucky, the stars align and bequeath you unique experiences. On Friday, at 10:30, the morning after the opening of the Dallas Art Fair, which is the centerpiece of Dallas Art Week, Christie’s gave me the keys to a 2015 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse—at 255 mph, the fastest car on the road, and at $2.5 million, just about the most expensive. At 11:30, I was in the home of Dallas collector Marguerite Steed Hoffman, watching as she delicately turned the pages of a medieval illuminated manuscript while standing next to one of Gerhard Richter’s candle paintings. And at 12:30, I ate a plate of fried alligator. Dallas made this all seem normal.